A former university international student adviser could face criminal charges if an investigation launched Tuesday uncovers evidence of suspected financial wrongdoing. Shirley Bowens, the longtime CSUN coordinator of International Student Advising, who retired Oct. 1, is the focus of the probe according to a news release from the university.’
Police Chief Anne Glavin was asked to initiate a criminal investigation by CSUN President Jolene Koester yesterday. Koester’s request came after a confidential third-party investigation was conducted during the Fall semester 2008. Glavin was unable to provide a timeline for the investigation, saying that it was too soon to be certain.
Glavin has assembled a team comprised of two detectives and their captain, who will be organizing a plan of action. Although Glavin could not comment on the details of the investigation, she confirmed the request.
‘The in-depth investigation raises the possibility of criminal wrongdoing. I thus turned over the matter to law enforcement for criminal investigation,’ said Koester in a written statement.
Bowens was placed on administrative leave during the summer following a student complaint.’ Her work at the center included counseling and advising on academic issues relevant to foreign student status, visa and immigration requirements and procedures and work authorization for F-1 students.
‘If the complaint is against a staff person, we will almost by protocol put them on administrative leave. That gives us the opportunity to investigate the situation,’ said Terry Piper, vice president of student affairs.
‘In the current situation we had a complaint that there was some wrongdoing occurring that related to the servicing of international students. And the complaint specifically related to Shirley Bowens,’ Piper added.
The university’s initial review in June 2008 began in response to concerns about potential financial irregularities concerning international students. This eventually led to the university hiring an outside investigator to conduct a more in-depth examination of the business processes of the program.
According to Piper, the investigation revealed broader concerns that required further scrutiny.
‘As a result of us looking at this one student’s concern, then we wanted to make sure that we did not have other concerns operating and asked for the university attorney to identify for someone to come in and look at the issues specific to the original compliant and any others that might emerge as the investigation went on,’ said Piper.
Based on the preliminary review, the university has instituted new internal business processes in the Office of International Programs.
‘The new protocol put into place procedures that ensure university policy is followed,’ said Piper.
These changes include additional foreign student advisors and more thorough documentation of their responsibilities, added Piper.
The 1,800 currently enrolled international students and the additional 220 that applied for the following semester will not be affected by these changes, said Piper. He asserted that these changes will improve the experience of foreign students and increase transparency in the international program. He added that the program is not in jeopardy.
Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications Michael McManus confirmed on Sept. 4 the University’s involvement in a confidential investigation.
‘I cannot discuss details because it involves a personnel matter subject to privacy laws,’ McManus said in a written statement.
The university has had limited contact with Bowens since her departure and is unaware of her reasons for leaving said Piper.
‘The timing though did occur during the investigation,’ added Piper Bowens could not be reached for comment.